Celebrating Club Anniversaries

There will be many events over the next three years; some of these events will be large and some of them will be small, but all of them will be significant and each will help to honour an important milestone in the 125 year history of the Ranchmen's Club. Members & guests recently attended the 100th Anniversary of the Clubhouse - Celebration Dinner. Plans are already underway for the 100th Anniversary of the Henry Smith Golf Tournament in 2015; and, the 125th Anniversary of the Founding of the Ranchmen's Club, in 2016.

Hundred & Twenty Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the Ranchmen's Club

Founded May 1891

Copy of original incorporation papers, December 1891 Amended January 1892

In 1891, Queen Victoria had reigned over the British Empire for 54 years, Sir John A. MacDonald was reaching the end of his remarkable career, the main line of the C.P.R. was six years old, the population of the town of Calgary was 3,876 and the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were 15 years in the future. It was in this year, the heyday of Victorian peace, prosperity, stability and security, that the Ranchmen’s Club was founded. The Club’s founders’ hope was to create a private gentlemen’s club based on the British clubs made famous by British authors, philosophers and politicians. The Ranchmen’s Club was incorporated formally by the First Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories in December 1891. The Club became an important component in the rich fabric of Alberta’s development. Within the confines of the Club, influential Albertans congregated to talk and relax. For many, it became a home away from home, where the outside world rarely intruded. The Club and its traditions have endured through one move in 1914, two world wars, long years of depression and radical social change.

Hundredth Anniversary of the Henry Smith Golf Tournament

Started August 1915

The Henry Smith Trophy (centre) awarded each year
to the winner of the Henry Smith "Proper" Golf Tournament

The Henry Smith Golf Tournament has been played annually since 1915, when the idea for a yearly tournament was first proposed at the Club’s monthly Committee meeting of August 11, 1915. "A letter was read from Mr. Smith offering a Golf Challenge Cup to be played annually by members of the Ranchmen’s Club.” A motion to accept his offer was carried and a committee of three; Mr. Peet, Mr. Bergeron and Mr. Hearn were appointed to arrange the details of the competition.  According to an early history of the Club, Smith was an avid dry fly fisherman, but an indifferent golfer and was anxious to provide a competition in which the poor player might have at least a little hope. So he “decreed in words succinct” that the lower handicapped player in each draw should give to his opponent, in strokes, the full difference between their handicaps; and there should be no penalty for a lost ball; the player who cannot find his ball drops one where he thinks the first should have been. 
Every year, the name of the winner is inscribed on the much loved and somewhat dented sterling silver Henry Smith Trophy Cup. The “Henry Smith” has become a great event in the Club year wrapping up in the fall with a splendid dinner where all the players join to toast the legacy of Henry Smith and the game of golf well and joyously played in the spirit of friendly competition.

Hundredth Anniversary of the 6th Street & 13th Avenue Clubhouse

Opened July 1914

McCarthy/Van Wart House – 1215  6th Street S.W., Calgary. Built in 1891, it was demolished in 1913 to make way for the Ranchmen’s Club.

In the spring of 1913, the Ranchmen’s Club started to build a new clubhouse on the current property and after a year of construction, it opened to the membership in July 1914. In 1891, the site had originally accommodated a stately home that had been built by Peter McCarthy, the business partner of Sir James Lougheed. In 1901, when McCarthy suddenly passed away at a young age, the house was sold to Issac Van Wart . Later, Lougheed arranged to secure this property from Van Wart’s estate for the Ranchmen’s Club’s new clubhouse location. According to the Club’s Minutes from January 17, 1913 the Club’s Building Committee moved:

"that Mr. Fyshe be requested to have an inspection made of the Van Wart house (13th Avenue and 6th Street S.W.) and report to the Committee as to the advisability of moving it or demolishing it, the latter to be done by tender."

Needless to say, it was determined that the grand home should be demolished and a new clubhouse built so that the Ranchmen’s Club could move into this prestigious neighbourhood of mansions and estates "south of the tracks", where many of the Ranchmen’s Club membership lived. As part of the Clubhouse’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, the grounds, gardens and exterior building lighting were renovated in the summer of 2014, and were unveiled in July, 2014.

Read all about the Club's 100th Anniversary Celebration and see the pictures from this very memorable event by clicking here